by Lindsey Grutchfield
Marjorie Drysdale’s “Tagalong Kid: A Katonah Idyll” is partially a memoir and partially a storybook. Written as the tale of 1950’s upstate New York, Marjorie (or Marjie, as was her childhood nickname) moves with her parents, her sister, and a pair of vividly described older brothers known as Warren and Bruce, to the village of Katonah. Here, the brothers run wild and Marjie runs wild with them. Drysdale clearly has a gift for language, and the reader can almost feel the sun sparkling on the water during a frequent fishing expedition, or smell the dry, papery scent of an old classroom on the first day of school.
As time passes and Marjie matures, the childhood innocence and simplicity of Drysdale’s early recollections is lost, replaced by a kind of dry wit, the kind of wit that finds humor in the scrapes and bruises of school-age childhood. Later still, Drysdale grows reflective as Marjie matures and grows a bit more aware of the complications of adult life.
This change in mood plays well for the reader, forcing a kind of transfer of perspective that echoes that of the author and main character alike. With this change, the audience must evolve. In many ways, “Tagalong Kid” is a coming-of-age story that is not necessarily aimed at those who are coming of age themselves. Instead, those who could glean the most out of the text seem to be those who wish to relive a bygone era, though at times the book’s tone would seem to appeal most to a child.
“Tagalong Kid” is worth reading. It is a sweet memory, and the stories being told are obviously close to the author’s heart. They are recounted with sincerity, emotion, and, every now and then, a glimmer of pure insight into the mind of a child or, for that matter, the mind of a parent. In the end, “Tagalong Kid” is an enjoyable read and one of great potential.